Karan favours dialogue with political parties, civil society

Dr Karan Singh presenting Maharaja Gulab Singh Award - 2019 to Manu Khajuria at a function in Jammu on Monday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
Dr Karan Singh presenting Maharaja Gulab Singh Award - 2019 to Manu Khajuria at a function in Jammu on Monday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

Calls for fair distribution of all powers

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Oct 21: Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader, Dr Karan Singh today stressed the importance of the resumption of political dialogue with recognized political parties and civil society in the Kashmir valley with a view to normalizing the situation prevailing there.
Speaking at a function organized by Maharaja Gulab Singh Memorial Trust in connection with the 227th birth anniversary celebrations of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of Jammu and Kashmir State, Dr Singh, who is also Chairman J&K Dharmarth Trust, said, ” Whatever the position today may be, we must never forget that the original State which was created by Maharaja Gulab Singh had extended all the way from the foothills of Jammu to Gilgit and Baltistan bordering, Central Asia and Ladakh up to Tibet.”

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“This unique multi-regional, multi-linguistic and multi-religious State was built up after many sacrifices gvien by Dogra soldiers under famous Commander General Zorawar Singh and was area-wise the largest Indian State during British rule. Maharaja Gulab Singh and later Maharaja Ranbir Singh thus extended the frontiers of India substantially for which they should always be remembered with gratitude by the entire nation,” Dr Karan Singh maintained.
Referring to the current political situation, Dr Karan Singh said that on August 8, he had issued a statement expressing his views on this dramatic and drastic decision. The legal implications and Constitutional ramifications are being looked into by the Supreme Court and, therefore, he will not comment upon them. However, politically now that this decision has been made, one has to approach it with a positive mindset and move ahead.
Dr Singh stressed the importance of the resumption of the political dialogue with recognized political parties and civil society in the Kashmir valley with a view to normalizing the situation there. Considering that there has been a huge loss of income in Kashmir due to the cessation of tourism, which has also affected the economy of Jammu, he was glad that the Government had made special arrangements for export of the bumper apple crop from the Valley to prevent further economic distress.
“It is most unfortunate and condemnable that extremist elements have attacked and killed apple growers and exporters on several occasions,” he said.
In Ladakh, he noted the Leh and Kargil Hill Councils will provide the popular involvement so necessary for economic development, and hoped that they will be duly empowered in the new dispensation.
Regarding Jammu, Dr Singh said that it was very important to ensure a fair distribution of economic, administrative and political powers between the two regions. Competition for employment will get tougher because people from around the country can now apply for posts in the State. “Influx of industry into the State would be welcomed but we must avoid high-diluting industries which have caused environmental havoc in other States.”
With regard to purchase of land, he said that both in Himachal Pradesh and in Uttarakhand there were restrictions on large scale land purchases. He stressed that after the recent developments it was important that the interests of the people in Jammu and Kashmir should be safeguarded from polluting industries and land sharks by necessary domiciliary provisions as in other hill States. He also hoped that from next year Maharaja Hari Singh birthday would be declared as a public holiday, thus fulfilling a long-standing public demand.
He stressed that it was essential to maintain communal harmony in the entire State, particularly in Jammu which has a substantially mixed population. He said that the Dogra values of friendship, chivalry and goodwill should always be strengthened, which would be the best tribute to the memory of Maharaja Gulab Singh.
Dr Karan Singh expressed the hope that Jammu and Kashmir would regain the status of a full-fledged State sooner rather than later.
During the function, Dr Singh presented the Maharaja Gulab Singh Award 2019 to Manu Khajuria, a young woman from Jammu who has settled in London. She has set up an organization there called Voice of Dogras, a community organisation working for the preservation and promotion of Dogra identity, culture and the history of the Jammu region.
The Award carries a citation and Rs 2 lakh and is given annually to persons from Jammu & Kashmir who have made a significant contribution to furthering the culture and prestige of the State.
Earlier, Dr Singh performed Puja and Hawan-Yagya at Shri Raghunath Ji Temple, Jammu, marking the birth anniversary of Maharaja Gulab Singh.